I can coffee shop alone like a champ. Brandon and I actually consider “cafe time” to be one of the biggest luxuries we both crave. I’m really good at sitting in a coffee shop and reading, listening to music, studying, or writing. I don’t find it as easy to sit alone and eat. Maybe because it’s more active than sipping coffee that I have this issue. I even feel a little conspicuous chowing down on a pastry at a coffee shop alone. (It doesn’t stop me from indulging in the pecan croissants at City and State.)
I think the introverts would probably be surprised to learn this about me. I’m not terribly uncomfortable in a lot of social situations. But dining alone gives me the heebie jeebies.
I work from home, or my home is my workplace rather (working from home implies that you can leave and work somewhere else during the day). I run an in-home daycare so that I’m afforded the luxury of staying home with my own child. It’s a good job with a lot of perks, but it is a job. I am also unable to leave the house for 55 hours a week. So I get a little, or a lot, stir crazy sometimes.
My sweet mother has given me the incredible gift of a weekly break for a few hours lately. I’m given the opportunity to leave, run errands that I can’t run on the weekends, and enjoy some quiet away time. It is glorious and makes me a much better childcare provider and mother. Being out of the house is a luxury I took for granted back when my life consisted of a lot more “running around”.
A week ago, Brandon suggested I go to the Brooks Museum for their free day and to enjoy afternoon tea at The Brushmark restaurant. It was such a thoughtful suggestion, but I said “I don’t think I’ll be doing that, thanks.” It felt like tea is something that must be taken with others, not to be done alone. It’s just too fancy for little me. It’s not the same as a coffee shop, it’s not causal and relaxed, and it’s certainly not some something I can do ALONE.
But, after a look at their menu (scones and clotted cream! cucumber and butter sandwiches!) I was sold. I decided to look my awkwardness straight in the face and do it. Here’s how it went down:
- I put on a cute top and scrubbed the baby fingerprints off my leggings.
- I put on fresh makeup and some more deodorant.
- I marched myself right into the restaurant… and the hostess was nowhere to be seen. It looked like the restaurant was completely empty. So then, naturally, I panicked.
- A few seconds later a sweet hostess met me and asked if I was having tea for one. (Gulp) “Yes.” Then insert awkward giggle along with some nonsense about how I don’t go out alone a whole lot. (I’m sure THAT made me look cool.)
- She escorted me to the Brushmark’s gorgeous outdoor seating area where several other patrons were also enjoing their cuppa. (Did I just use “cuppa” correctly? I’m new to all this.) I felt a ton better seeing that I wasn’t going to be eating alone AND be the only customer. The gorgeous weather didn’t hurt the situation one bit.
- The hostess asked how I liked the seat and I said it was “lovely”. Which commenced the use of the word “lovely” no less than 10 times within the next hour, on Instagram, in texts to my husband, and to the waitstaff. Apparently I had gotten into character with this whole afternoon tea business.
- I ordered a nice Earl Grey tea, a scone with clotted cream, cucumber and butter sandwiches, and smoked salmon and dill cream cheese sandwiches.
- I settled in with my book (“All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr) and enjoyed my very civilized yet thankfully casual tea time.
I was surprised to see that it wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I had originally feared. I really enjoyed the entire experience and so appreciated that it was a more casual introduction to afternoon tea. I’m definitely going to make an effort to try going again in the near future.
All the food was wonderful. The service was relaxed and friendly. The weather cooperated extremely well. I didn’t spontaneously combust from sitting at a table for 4 alone.
This might not be the last time I eat alone in my thirties.